Thursday, 15 February 2007

Budget 2007

I was in Parliament for the Budget Statement today. I've got certain views on it which I will reserve for my speech (yes, that will be my maiden speech, on either 27 or 28 February, although I asked two supplemental questions today [which I will post when the official report is published]).

But I'm keen to hear from people what they think. So if you can drop me an e-mail at siewkumhong {[at]} or post a comment here, that would be great. I can't promise I'll agree with you or raise what you say, or even respond or reply to you, but I can promise -- and you can rest assured -- that I will read it.


More information on Budget 2007 can be obtained at these links:


Recruit Ong said...

Hi, this is not a specific budget question. I want to know whether you have finished, or currently doing, your national service/reservist?

The gahment spend IMO a disproportionate amount of $$ on mindef, do you agree?

I have heard from older working people that national service and reservist in reality put male Sgians on a backfoot when it comes to competing with those who do not need to do NS (e.g. female, PRs and foreigners) in the work place. What is your view on this?

Paul said...

The budget leaves several questions unanswered.
The GST is in nature a regressive tax. Everyone has to pay it, whether employed or unemployed. While there seems to be some insignificant offset measures, there didn't seem to be any mechanism to assist those who are unemployed and are paying GST? They are the ones most likely to fall through the holes again.
Yes, workfare bonus tries to encourage employment. But the question that begs to be asked is "What about people who can't find a job?"

o said...

I've run through the numbers quickly and one thing stands out for me: the operating expenditures for the PMO is budgeted to increase by 19% this year, even after a similarly large 18% increase last year.

to paul: Actually, it appears to me that if somebody is unemployed then their income counts as zero and they will receive the maximum offset.

I believe the offset is fair, except that it is not inflation-indexed. But if inflation happens to be excessive I suppose that can be addressed in the future.

Siew Kum Hong said...

To recruit ong:
I am PES E, so am er exempted from NS liability. However, these are my personal observations from working with/for people with NS liability, being for a year involved in hiring decisions, and having worked for both local and foreign employers:

- a NS call-up is typically 2-3 weeks in a go, which can be incredibly inconvenient but is not typically fatal.

- many (most?) hiring decision-makers who are locals are men, who will understand this. Those who are not locals (or in MNCs) tend to be more enlightened, and will not discriminate on this basis.

- in fact, most MNCs tend to be more enlightened. Local employers (including, sadly, the government) are more likely to discriminate.

- women tend to be discriminated against much more than men. The disruption from maternity leave is seen as being much greater than from NS call-ups, because of the duration of the disruption. The cost implications are also different, since the cost of the first 8 weeks of maternity are borne by the employer, but the government will reimburse for NS liability.

- there may be some bias in favour of foreigners over local men. Having said that, there are advantages in favour of locals in terms of language, culture, etc.

Finally, an employer who will discriminate like that is probably not an employer you would want to work for anyway.

To paul:
Exactly. That is one of the main things I intend to raise.

To o:
Thanks for pointing out the PMO expenditure point. That is interesting. I have not yet gotten around to reading the heads of expenditure.

Re persons with no income -- you have to distinguish between the GST offsets and Workfare. A person with zero income will still qualify for GST offsets (and in this regard, they will get the maximum offsets). But they will get zero Workfare, which is the last point paul made.

As for inflation, that should not be a major problem -- Singapore's inflation is extremely low (0-2% historically), and the payouts are staggered over 4 years so the effects of inflation will be minimal.